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Nutrition in Pregnancy


Throughout the next nine months, your body will change, your nutrient and energy require will increase. One can agree, that a healthy, and balanced diet is key now more than ever. “Eating for two” is an outdated concept. However, some weight gain (between 11-16kg) during this time is needed to support a healthy pregnancy. So rather than “eating for two”, think of it as eating twice as healthy.


However, what is considered healthy and balanced during pregnancy?


Navigating the many nutrition do’s and don’ts can be challenging, especially during pregnancy. I hope this guide will give you some insight into the do’s and don’ts of pregnancy nutrition, and help you to feel a little more confident in your decision making around your daily meals.


Nutrition in the 1st trimester


If you are in your first trimester, you have just embarked on the journey of growing a child. Your energy requirements during this time stay, however, pretty much the same.


The hormonal changes that accompany your first trimester can lead to nausea and vomiting. It might help to avoid eating large meals and replace them with small, more frequent meals. Ginger is often an effective remedy to reduce nausea. Serving fresh ginger tea is also a good way of keeping hydrated. If smells trigger your nausea, airing the rooms regularly or inhaling peppermint oil may help to overcome the uncomfortable sensation.


Otherwise, at this stage, you really only need to think about minerals and vitamins that your little one needs in order to develop adequately.


So how do you get enough of these micronutrients through your diet?


It is really about eating the rainbow, as Vitamins and Minerals are mainly found in fruits and vegetables, grains and some animal products A high quality pregnancy specific Vitamin and Mineral Supplement is also often recommended as well.


Folic Acid


Folic Acid is a Vitamin you have probably heard about already. It is needed in sufficient quantities in the body to prevent malformation in the fetus during its development.


During pregnancy you will need 600 micrograms of folic acid daily. Foods that are high in folic acid include Leafy greens, pulses and eggs, all of which are beneficial in supporting the development of the central nervous system of your baby.


Nevertheless, it is hard to get sufficient levels of folic acid through diet alone. Therefore, it recommended to take 400 micrograms of folic acid at least 1 month before pregnancy and during the first trimester of pregnancy in form of a prenatal supplement.


Nutrition in the 2nd trimester


During the second trimester your energy requirements are changing. As per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you should consume an additional 340 calories per day. If you are carrying twins you should consume around 600 extra calories, and if you carry triplets 900 extra calories per day. So this phase of your pregnancy calls for energy.


With the extra calories come extra protein requirements. So instead of 3 portions you aim for 4 portions of protein per day. One portion is equivalent to 150 g of fish, chicken or a vegetarian or vegan alternative. This will help the fetus grow.


Omega 3 fatty acids are also important. These fats are found in fish, nuts and seeds. You should eat two servings of fish or shellfish per week before, and during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. A serving of fish is 225 to 340 g.


There are types of fish you should however avoid during pregnancy. Those are listed at the end.


If you are vegetarian or vegan, good sources of omega 3 include Flaxseed, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, cauliflower, and walnuts.


Other vital nutrients during this time include Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin C and D. Thus, a wholefood diet is key.


Nutrition in the 3rd trimester


You have now arrived in the third trimester, the final stretch. Your baby will gain another 3300 to 3500 grams before it’s born. You need to be strong which means you need to add an extra 450 calories per day. Craving and hunger are common during this time.


In this time the growing fetus presses against several organs including your stomach. Heartburn are commonly experienced. Eating smaller and more frequent meals as well as avoiding fatty and spicy foods may help. Walking after eating can promote digestion.


If you have trouble passing stool, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating fibre rich foods including whole grains, fruits and vegetables can help to regulate bowel movements.


Iron


Your body is producing extra blood to carry oxygen to both you and the baby. This is why additional iron is needed to produce sufficient blood cells. Iron is found in meat, pulses and dark leafy greens.


A note on Safe Food Handling


To avoid food borne infections including toxoplasmosis or listeria, follow the general food safety guidelines when handling, preparing and cooking foods:


Wash all raw produces thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting or cooking

Clean your hands, knives, countertops and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods

Cook beef, pork and poultry to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to check

Chill perishable food promptly


Furthermore, to avoid these food-borne infections, below you will find a list of foods you should not consume during pregnancy:


Dairy Products

Unpasteurized milk

Foods made with unpasteurized milk including soft cheeses like feta, camembert, brie or blue cheeses


Meat and Sausages

Raw or undercooked meat

Raw sausages like salami or air dried ham

Refrigerated pate and meat spreads


Fish and Fish Products

Raw and undercooked fish including sushi

Refrigerated smoked seafood

Swordfish, Bigeye Tuna, Shark, King Mackerel due to high levels or mercury


Eggs

Raw egg dishes including Tiramisu

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